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Mol Microbiol. 1993 May;8(5):891-901.

The role of galE in the biosynthesis and function of gonococcal lipopolysaccharide.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie, Abteilung Infektionsbiologie, Tübingen, Germany.


Lipopolysaccharide is an essential component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and an important virulence factor of many pathogens, such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. We have cloned the gonococcal galE gene which was found to be located in the gonococcal homologue of the meningococcal capsule gene complex region D. Sequence alignment indicated extensive homology with the Escherichia coli and Salmonella GalE proteins. Mutants with insertions in the galE gene were used as a tool to characterize the structure and function of gonococcal lipopolysaccharide. They displayed deep rough phenotypes, and chemical analysis confirmed the loss of galactose from the mutant lipopolysaccharide. Functional analysis indicated that the terminal oligosaccharides contain galactose and that these are lost in galE mutants. The importance of these oligosaccharides in gonococcal biology is clear from the fact that they contain the epitopes that are the targets for killing by normal human serum, and the acceptor site for sialic acid, which acts to protect the gonococcus from this killing. Furthermore, infection experiments in vitro indicate that the galE mutants exhibit unaltered intergonococcal adhesion as well as adhesion to, and invasion of, epithelial cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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